I was scrolling through Instagram at the end of May when I saw it: a bare, tan shoulder ensconced in what appeared to be the most perfect summer camisole ever to cross my path. It was white cotton with lace trim and dainty pintucks. It looked like something you might find at a vintage fair in Portland or in a weathered but well-loved steamer trunk in your grandmother’s attic or beachside boutique in the south of France. The latter seemed likely considering the shoulder belonged to bonafide French “it” girl Jeanne Damas.
Imagine my surprise when I tapped the image and discovered it was from Reformation. Yes! Reformation, the immensely popular brand of ubiquitous warm-weather style renown, maker of pretty little dresses, bastion of “that Nolita look,” supplier of any and every item that looks vintage but isn’t. Reformation is the reliable source of what inevitably becomes the item that looks vintage but isn’t that every girl you know is buying and wearing from the beginning June through the end of August.
I was overcome with a sticky mixture of disappointment and glee. Disappointment because I hadn’t stumbled upon and correctly identified a unique gem I could discreetly hunt down on a niche website and wear with the satisfaction of being one of few people in possession of that garment. Glee because I now knew that I could easily buy it — no hunting necessary.
But I didn’t buy it, because I started seeing it everywhere — by which I mean I started seeing iterations of it on a slew of popular influencers. (Reformation also released a similar mini dress and midi dress, both of which featured the same delightful lace trim and pintucks).
Reformation posted an image of Danielle Bernstein in the mini dress version — an image predating Jeanne Damas’s that originally caught my eye. I discovered it once I started actively looking for proof of what was happening. (Proof of influencers doing exactly what their social media prowess says they do: influencing me).
I resisted at first. I bucked against the idea that I was being scooped up in a marketing ploy whose process I understood so acutely: brand makes garment, brand sends garment to influencers, influencers post photos of themselves wearing garment on Instagram and tag brand, followers (a.k.a. me) admire garment, tap the photo to discover brand and proceed to purchase garment accordingly.
I have completed each step in my allotted portion of this assembly line, save for the last. I love the top (and the two dresses). They are exactly the kind of thing I enjoy wearing in the summer — dainty white cotton pieces that could conceivably moonlight as undergarments from another century — but I can’t get past my hangup about buying THE thing of summer 2017 — the thing that every influencer is already wearing, and all of their followers will likely be wearing shortly. Wouldn’t that completely compromise my individuality? The essence of what makes my personal style personal?
Two days ago, I got a reality check. I was looking through Instagram Stories when I tapped on my friend Eva’s icon and saw she had posted a video of the exact top I’d been admiring. In white text written over the story, she confessed, “Got sucked in by influencer marketing.” I laughed and immediately direct messaged her that I’ve been eyeing it for forever and was on the cusp of getting “influenced” myself.
I put the top in my shopping cart minutes later. I figure it’s okay to get sucked in when you really, really love something. Especially when that thing is under $100 and transports you to the south of France free of charge.